What is a Congregationalist?
- From Pastor Stu Merkel’s Message on April 22 2012- Congregationalists are followers of Christ who worship together in a fully independent congregation that is governed by the people of the church. Our only authority is Christ revealed in the true Word of God and through the revelation of the Holy Spirit in our service and ministry.
What do Congregational Christians Believe?
- By Rev. Steven A. Peay PhD.- The Congregational Christian tradition is descended from the English ‘Reformed’ tradition. Congregationalists share their faith-roots with those in the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. As a consequence, the ‘Congregational Way’ assumes the perspective of classical Christian faith.
Essentially the Congregational Churches have held to:
- One God in three distinct Person (the Holy Trinity): the Father (Creator), the Son (Redeemer), the Holy Spirit (Sustainer).
- The redemptive work of Jesus Christ as the source of salvation
- The Church as divinely instituted, comprising both an invisible and a visible reality, headed by Christ and made present by believers joined in covenant. The local church is seen as complete in itself.
- The authority of the holy scriptures as the rule for faith and life
- Two Sacraments (‘Seals of the Covenant’) Baptism and the Lord’s Supper- other ‘holy ordinances’ or ‘rites’ (such as marriage) are not seen as having the same place as the sacraments or a biblically instituted
- Great emphasis is placed upon the individual believer’s relationship to a God who relates in a personal manner. Tied with that relationship is the need for the individual to inform his/her conscience and act freely in accord with it; developing a spirituality that is, at once, personal and communal. This understanding reflects very strongly the emphasis and orientation of the Church during its earliest period.
- The Covenant: The Congregational Way places stress on the covenant as thebinding force by which the Church is gathered. Through both the Old and New Testaments God made covenant with his people and it is in “owning the covenant” that Congregationalist believe they become a part of God’s “gathered people.” Within the congregation there is a fundamental equality of believers, not, however, because the Church is a democracy. Rather, the understanding is that of Scripture, Christ is the head of the Church. What we attempt to do here and now is the carry out God’s will expressed in Christ by the grace and operation of the Holy Spirit. The Covenant also marks the distinction between a Congregational Church being ‘autonomous’ as opposed to being ‘independent.’ Since the covenant implies fellowship with other bodies of covenanted believers, the local congregation is self-governing, but is not independent.
What are Congregationalists?
- Congregationalists are ‘classical’ Christians who hold to the idea that the local congregation of covenanted believers is the most authentic way to approach the task of being Christ’s body in the world. Within the gathered people, then, Christ is seen as the head of the Church (his body) and the members work together in equality and charity.